A steady stream of residents rolled into the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library on Tuesday night to talk about transportation.
The open house was the first major public outreach session for the city’s transportation system plan and transit development plan updates. At its peak, more than 60 people were in the room discussing transportation issues with city staff and project consultants.
“I think this is a great event,” said former Councilor Mark O’Brien, a member of the project’s steering committee. “We’re providing people with an opportunity for a window into the project. It closes the process of identification of the problems and turns the corner toward seeking solutions.”
Information boards were set up for the four major transportation subsets: vehicles (including freight), bicycles, walking and transit, as well as easels on the project goals. In the center of the library was a comment table, and participants kept filling up easel pages on the individual categories.
Bruce Martin, a nine-year Corvallis resident, was on hand mainly to chime on cycling.
“We came (to Corvallis) for the bicycling, and it’s a nice place to retire,” said Martin, who expressed concerns about cycling deaths that he feels did not result in enough punishment. Martin also prefers the Idaho stop sign law that allows cyclists to roll through stop signs as long as they look both ways.
Dylan Horn, a North Carolina native and doctoral student in civil engineering at Oregon State University, said “pedestrians are the most important. At the end of the day, we’re all pedestrians.”
Horn recommended reducing Highway 99W (Fourth Street and Third Street) from three lanes to two to make it easier for pedestrians to get across.
“I’m all about safe roads for all residents, especially children," he said. "Corvallis is a great place, but there is still so much more you can do.”
Tom Jensen threw a new category into the mix: housing. Jensen said that if OSU would house more students on campus, then working families could move into the off-campus housing currently occupied by students. The result, Jensen said, would be less pressure on the transportation system and fewer commuters.
City staff and the consultants will collect the feedback from Tuesday’s session and create a draft proposal of solutions for public review next spring. The City Council is tentatively scheduled to act on the plan by the summer of 2018.
The project — the first such update in Corvallis since 1996 — is mandated by the state and being paid for by a $1 million planning grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation.